cover image The Tooth

The Tooth

Avi Slodovnick, illus. by Manon Gauthier, EDC/Kane Miller, $14.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-935279-72-3

“Marissa wished she was in school,” writes Canadian author Slodovnick as the candy-loving girl gets a tooth pulled. But the homeless man Marissa has seen on the way to the office makes an even deeper impression. “She wanted to take a closer look, but her mother held her hand tightly.” Gauthier draws the unshaven man from Marissa’s point of view, through the legs of other pedestrians, sitting cross-legged on the ground. He’s not a threat, but he doesn’t have what he needs: a home, food, safety. Marissa knows the tooth the dentist pulled will bring her money from the tooth fairy. When they pass the homeless man again, she pulls away from her mother and gives the tooth to him. “Put it under your pillow tonight,” she tells him, “and there will be money there tomorrow.” Although Gauthier’s softly penciled figures and muted colors ease the impact, the story and its stark ending (“Now all he needed... was a pillow”) will likely leave questions in the minds of younger readers, and adults should be prepared to talk about them. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)